Lauren Patrick gave me an incredible gift yesterday. Like most things of this nature, it seemed small at the time then quickly morphed into the sort where if you really pay attention, you realize the Universe is trying to tell you something pretty important.

Lauren gave me The List. You know the one. It outlines all the pertinent parts of your perfect person. I’ve heard of The List always. Who hasn’t, right? I feel like there’s even a Sex and the City about it. I’ve just never made mine. Seems strange, doesn’t it? I’m the biggest proponent of putting pen to paper to breathe life into something. The first one telling people to put things in the Universe if they really want them to happen. The most out-loud believer that we control our own destiny, as long as we are resolute and sincere. When I wanted to move to Charleston, I, literally, PUT it everywhere. So to think, when the one thing I love most in this life is love, that I haven’t sat down and actually fashioned what it really looks like to me in a tangible way seems a little, I don’t know, like what the fuck, self. OF COURSE YOU SHOULD HAVE A LIST.

Lauren and I got together yesterday to shoot the shit about life, love, writing, being women, being Southern, being weird, being married, being not married, career successes and failures, our dreams, OUR EVERYTHING. For almost 5 hours, we recorded really incredible conversations with the goal of starting the story we’ve been meaning to tell together for such a long time. I remember this moment exactly and for the rest of forever.

Lauren and her really, really, REALLY excellent husband got married when they were 25. These stories always amaze me. HOW, I wonder. How when you’re still a kid can you make such an important, forever decision. Lauren takes NO time to answer this. Hold on, she says, as she runs into her house, returning a second later with what is obviously a well-loved journal. 16-year-old Lauren used this journal to make her List. She smiles as she shows me the green check marks next to everything. She made them when she met her husband. Her whole life, she compared every person to the List and they never measured up until him. I LOVE THIS STORY.

She shrieks when she discovers I don’t have a list and immediately grabs a pen and starts asking me questions. What does he look like, what does he do, what does he wear, what does he love, what is his family like, what does he do on weekends, WHO IS HE? I just start prattling things off – I’ve never really thought of these things as a whole, more so as individual boxes that most people don’t check so there’s been no real need to compare to the extended version.

I think we stopped somewhere near 40 things. 40 really important things.

Do you know what the list showed me, you guys? You Know Who isn’t the one. Now, if you’re like, uh, duh, Jenn, you broke up 18 months ago, of course he’s not the one, what you don’t know is that there was recently a reunion tour. One that I started after Colonel Bruce told me to bravely love the ones who set your soul on fire in this life. What you don’t know is that it’s weighed so heavily on me for all this time. That he was actually my person. That I left too soon. That I should have fought harder. That MAYBE if I took all the things I learned last year, all the peace I made, all the new and improved me I became and I brought it back, we’d have half the problems, right? The unfortunate math equation of that love story is that so long as one half of it is an alcoholic, 100% of it can never exist. This news still remains hard to swallow. Even with this very brief and unsuccessful return stint, it’s still weighed on my heart. I promised to marry a person and I gave up. How can I ever ever really be sure? Even with the math equation, facts can’t always change your heart.

That said, math never really did it for me in this life. But reading did. And I spoke this list of my heart. With no one but myself and my goals and my dreams in mind. I said all my truths. I WANT THIS. I WON’T SETTLE FOR ANYTHING BUT THIS. HE IS THIS, OR NOT AT ALL. And then I read it.

And You Know Who? He didn’t make the cut. Not even close. There are so so so so so so many more things in my life that I want that that could ever give me. I never realized until I saw it laid out before me in Lauren’s impeccable handwriting. He is not, nor has he ever been, the one for me. He was for learning and not forever. He was to make me better by leaving him behind. He was to push me beyond a really comfortable place I’d gotten in my own arrogance. He was to tear me down to my lowest point so I could rise back up to my highest.

No one I’ve ever met is The List. Do you understand how excited this makes me? There is no one who got away. No I should have or could have. NO WHAT IFs?. Just, like always, the exciting promise that life is doing exactly what and when it’s supposed to. I have struggled with this for so long, and all it took was 15 minutes with the right friend to provide me the finality I haven’t been able to find on my own. Just like that, the last of it left the building.

I encourage every person to make their list. It doesn’t have to be about a person. It can be about a dream project. Or a dream trip. A dream goal. Just a dream. Make your list. Breathe it in to life and make sure you’re living up to it. Don’t slow down or stop until you do. Never believe that anything is unattainable. And don’t settle. You’re a fucking rock star.